“Cranes in the Sky” as an Audiotopia

Solange’s album, A Seat at the Table, focuses on addressing the oppression of being a black woman in today’s society, simultaneously embarking on a self-discovery journey whilst giving light to the importance of the collective experience and understanding. The creation of space through the temporality, and the quiet, healing, and empowering control of the music and lyrics create an overall momentary Utopia, thus resonating with Josh Kun’s idea of music as an Auditopia, an intangible “space that we can enter into, encounter, move around in, inhabit, be safe in, learn from”. Through Solange’s album, and particularly Solange’s song, Cranes in the Sky, the listeners can share a collective “connection, a ticket, a pass, an invitation, a node in a complex network”.

Solange

Solange’s song, Cranes in the Sky, follows the analogy for life and all the things that we are reluctant to confront. For starters, as stated by Stephen Grandchamp, Solange’s song serves as a subversion of expectations, where the idea of freedom created through the idea of “cranes” in the sky, suddenly traverses into the opposite; restriction and constraint. The cranes in the sky serve the purpose of a bourdain, from which we can view oppression and systemic racism and the inability of addressing such. The song hides the racial and political critique and instead uses an analogy to make it reachable to the mainstream public. This ambiguity is also seen through Solange’s voice and overall tone throughout the song, which tries to fundamentally use calmness and softness as a contrast to the stereotypical idea of angry black women. 

In order to further understand Cranes in the Sky as an example for Audiotopia, we not only have to analize the song, but the enteritety of the music and visual experience created by Solange, contributing to the momentariness of music, while addressing its social and political context. 

One of the most talked-about scenes from Solange’s music video for Cranes in the Sky, discussed in Daphne Brooks lecture, consists of the conjoined purple dress which interconnects the multiple women in the scene. We could argue how the dress serves the purpose of making note of the importance of Solange’s collective understanding and awareness, the collective experience of music, and the message it conveys. It resembles the ongoing conversation between people about having a seat at the table. It portrays the temporality of the space created, and the idea behind it, thus connecting the past, present, and future. 

Solange’s “Cranes in the Sky” music video scene.

We could also make mention of the presence of multiple voices in the background of the song, or the constant appearance of multiple women throughout the video. It creates a sense of unity and emphasis on the fact that the conversation being had, goes beyond the artist herself. 

I am particularly interested in the role of identity in Solange’s album and song being discussed, along with Kun’s notion of an Auditopia, “music takes you immediately conscious of your identity precisely because something outside of you is entering your body”. We have seen how Cranes in the Sky attempts to make note of the attempt to be aware of reality, yet being blinded by everything around. The song and album are a self-discovery journey, taking the listeners on their own identity search. As stated by Kun, “The job of the listener, or at least one of them, is to register our experience of ourselves by confronting ourselves as strangers in the sound that we make our own.”

Another quote by Kun, “Music insists on the possibility of difference, even when that difference is a difference from ourselves, even when that difference is something we have not yet learned how to listen.”, insinuates exactly the role of Solange’s music as an Audiotopia, giving way to the fact that although the listener may not fully understand the racial struggles being presented in the album, A Seat at the Table, there is still a personal experience being fomented, eventually leading to collective thought and understanding of the music and its purpose, as “a mode of relation, a point of contact.”. 

As Kun mentions, the potential of Audiotopias is “to show us to move toward something better and transform the world we find ourselves in”. I believe that is exactly what Solange has achieved; she has created a temporary space within music, where certain ideas and thoughts are being discussed in an ongoing conversation throughout time.

Solange and Modern Blues

Solange’s album A Seat At The Table examines being a black female in America. She uses an underlying element of blues in her work to add a layer of history to her music. Reading from Bessie Smith “Thinking Blues” by Susan McClary some of that history can be better understood and applied to Solange’s album. In Thinking Blues McClary writes, “What has been called the ‘Classic Blues’… is a discourse that articulates a cultural and political struggle over sexual relations: a struggle that is directed against the objectification of female sexyality within a patriarchal order but which also tries to reclaim women’s bodies as the sexual and sensual subjects of women’s songs” (429). We see in Solange’s music videos that she attempts to do just that. She commands careful and thoughtful control of her images in order to depict a woman taking back her sexuality and reclaiming her body.

 In her song Don’t Touch My Hair Solange takes this idea of reclaiming bodies and extends it to her hair. Her hair as a black women. In her song she sings, “Don’t touch my hair, When it’s the feelings I wear, Don’t touch my soul, When it’s the rhythm I know, Don’t touch my crown, They say the vision I’ve found, Don’t touch what’s there, When it’s the feelings I wear, They don’t understand, What it means to me, Where we chose to go, Where we’ve been to know, They don’t understand, What it means to me, Where we chose to go, Where we’ve been to know.” Solange here delivers a powerful message of what her hair means to her; it means more than just hair. Her hair holds history and significance and so white women (whom I believe this song is largely speaking to although it speaks to anyone of a different ethnicity violating her hair) ignoring that or being completely oblivious to it in the first place is harmful. Ignoring this deep importance and trying to touch her hair because it is something exotic and different is dangerous and degrading.

 Blues originated with black women seeking to express themselves and deviate from mainstream, socially acceptable forms of expression and ideas. I believe that Solange uses this history of the origin of blues to add an underlying element of powerful reclaiming. And not just reclaiming her body and hair. McClary writes, “Yet there exists a cultural mythology (stemming largely from the 1960s) that wants to trace a pure lineage of blues from a cluster of rural, male blues singers recorded in the 1930s. And that mythology tends to either erase the women who first brought the blues to broad attention or else to condemn them for having compromised that pure lineage with commercial popular culture” (428). Not only is Solange reclaiming her body, hair, and narrative of being black in America, she is also reclaiming blues as well. It is still in today’s society not widely known that black women started blues and then were subject to sexism and were pushed out of the spotlight. The title of her album being “a seat at the table” references making seats for black women at the tables where conversations are happening both current day conversations, and past ones as well such as the conversation about the origin of blues. Solange makes to reclaim so much in her song Don’t Touch My Hair and her album as a whole, A Seat At The Table. 

‘Don’t Touch My Hair’

Solange’s album, A Seat at the Table was a series of songs that I not only loved because of their rhythm and her soft angelic voice but also because she was saying something. It was more than just random Cranes in the Sky and Tina’s teachings, Solange built a movement for social engagement and understanding. The song I chose  that particularly stood out to me was “Don’t touch my hair.” This song  immediately reminded me of  an old Mariah Carey, Lauryn Hill R&B song. The opening notes in that slow smooth rhythm, followed by her soft and minimal lyrics gave me a beautiful vibe. The same beat follows the entire song, with the chorus seeming to be the only place where the music picks up and more vocals are involved. That to me mimicked the most classic forms of R&B music I grew up listening to. Which I think is why I was originally so drawn to it. In the article titled Audiotopia by Josh Kun, he comments on this sort of reaction. He says, “music functions like a possible utopia for the listener, that music is experienced not only as sound that goes into our ears and vibrates through our bones but as space that we can enter into, encounter, move around in, inhabit, be safe, learn from” (Kun, 2).

Music is an ideal perfection, that’s what a utopia is. A perfect world that we can find inside musical notes and performances. In Solange’s “Don’t Touch My Hair” the world is made up of those small beats in the background as she’s singing. The bump…bump…bump…after every harp-like ting…ting…and so on. She places me in this song where I’m sitting down watching her as she cries to me not to touch her hair. For everyone to not touch her hair. And if I’m looking at the music alone, her lyrics are sad and personal. “Don’t touch my hair…when it’s the feelings I wear…they don’t understand what it means to me.”  

Similar to this, there’s a moment on the track that describes this stand-off that happens  between black bodies and outsiders when a violation occurs. On the hook, “Whatcha say to me?!Whatcha say to me?!” A rhetorical question, more closely meaning “get away from me!” The act of basically checking violators is necessary not so much to enlighten the offender but so the victim can reclaim their power and stand their ground. Set their own boundaries, not here to deliver to their offender, and not accept their disrespect.

The song is an anthem reclaiming her and all black autonomy. If we take the title and lyrics literally, “don’t touch my hair” refers to the many ways African American people are seen and treated as spectacles, exhibits, or costumes in the eyes of a dominant white society. Rather than fellow human beings who should be understood and loved. 

This song, like all the others on this album, speaks to grievances, releases, and/or motivations that arose from living this kind of experience. Like Kun says, “popular music has always offered accessible, everyday cultural spaces where strangeness and familiarity are actively negotiated, where difference and community are actively experienced and imagined” (Kun, 14). “Don’t touch my hair” unravels the knot Solange was feeling of frustration when trying to accommodate the ignorance on non-black people, and sometimes other black men and women when it comes to her autonomy. And I think it’s more than just her hair, her skin color, her body, her name, her mere existence that makes others uncomfortable because she isn’t conforming to white supremacist ideals or patriarchy. 

Simply, the hair in this song is a metaphor for the entire essence of black culture, as their hair is one thing that has always been policed throughout history, into our present society.

I think overall, this song and record remind us as a society to be proud of the magic we somehow create daily and beautifully just to survive. And Solange producing this album reminds us how indifferent we think we are when in reality we all are the same and just want to be seen that way.

The Voices in the Interludes

Solange Knowles’ A Seat at the Table has soundly made its place as one of the many voices of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement here in the United States. Since its release in 2016, it has added its voice, with its messages about imprisonment, self assertion, identity, and the future of racial equality to a generation of young Americans desperate to define their voice in the fight against racial prejudice and inequality which has plagued this nation’s black heritage all the way back to the foundation of our Union, and beyond.

While the songs, with their inspired lyrics, and their sonic symmetry to earlier protest songs (such as those within blues and soul) are absolutely the most notable element of the album, what stands out to me is the symbiosis between the intent of the words sung, and those of the words spoken. Between musical tracks of the album are a series of “interludes” each one documenting the experience of a person or artist from Solange’s own life. These include both of her parents, who espouse the joys and woes of life as a black person living in the United States.

Solange’s parents: Matthew (left) and Tina (right)

It is essential to the concept of the album that the songs be the predominant focus of the work, however, what may be lost in the rhythm of the music is very plainly brought to bear in the recordings of the interludes, the second of which, titled Dad Was Mad, documents the experiences of hate and prejudice that Knowles’ father bore witness to in his youth.

The tumult of the the riots and demonstrations which have been made to define the BLM movement (especially in Right Wing media, which do so in order to discredit the actions and intent of the movement) are the in response to this kind of hatred which Matthew describes to his daughter. However, what the movement seeks to establish is that there is great pride in being black, or any race for that matter, but expressly in being black. Solange’s mother, Tina Knowles, expresses these sentiments in her interlude about beauty in being black, concerning their culture, and in their heritage, and how the pain of violence has defined their oppression, it is also the silencing of their pride which has damaged them.

Tina Knowles’ words work to educate the listening audience on a direct message from the BLM movement, which seeks to (among other goals) raise awareness of the significance of black culture and livelihoods within the United States. The cruelty of denying black people the respect and safety afforded to their white counterparts is arguably one of the greatest feats of white supremacist oppression that the nation must overcome, and while the tracks of A Seat at the Table might deftly explain Solange’s own personal experience, it is the addition of these interludes, and their straightforward descriptions of the black experience which allow even the most casual listener of the album the opportunity to be learn, or be reminded, of the struggles which this artist so passionately works to overcome.

‘Don’t Touch My Hair’ by Solange

In this song, Solange takes on an important conversation that was happening when her album, A Seat at the Table was released, and still continues today. One of the micro-aggressions that many Black people face is having strangers touch their hair. For non-Black people, there may be curiosity about what kinky black hair feels like as it is often such a different texture than their own. While that curiosity may be innocent enough, the act of touching a Black person’s hair isn’t. If a kid touched a strange adult’s hair without permission, you’d reprimand them, but for some reason, many non-Black people feel that is acceptable for an adult to do. Even if you do ask permission it that doesn’t make it acceptable because the Black person may feel pressured into letting you into their personal space. It’s also something you’d never ask a non-Black person. For Black people who have been discriminated against because of their hair and told that certain styles aren’t “professional”, it may feel deeply insulting.

Solange in the music video for ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’

In Susan McClary’s essay “Thinking Blues” she writes about how Bessie Smith powerfully claims her sexuality and body in her song of the same name. McClary writes, “‘Thinking Blues’ articulates a vision of female subjectivity that balances self-possessed dignity with flashes of humor and a powerfully embodied sense of the erotic” (430). ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’ is also a powerfully embodied song in which Solange describes the importance of her hair, something that goes beyond skin-deep. Solange sings, “Don’t touch my hair/ When it’s the feelings I wear/ Don’t touch my soul”. Solange is ordering the listener not to touch her, drawing clear boundaries around her body and her feelings. By equating her hair with her feelings, soul, rhythm, crown, and pride, she is denying access to her body and mind. She will not let the listener have anything that they ask of her because it’s hers to give and she chooses not to. Like Bessie Smith, Solange is positioning herself in a place of power and control. As Daphne Brooks discussed in her lecture on Solange, even her vocal choices reflect the way she chooses to represent herself. Solange’s voice in ‘Don’t Touch my Hair’ is controlled and soft. While her message is a strong and direct one, she doesn’t belt the lyrics out. In an interview with her sister Beyoncé, Solange said of her vocal control in A Seat At The Table, “It was very intentional that I sang as a woman who was very in control, a woman who could have this conversation without yelling and screaming, because I still often feel that when black women try to have these conversations, we are not portrayed as in control, emotionally intact women, capable of having the hard conversations without losing that control”. Solange is clearly aware of the angry Black woman trope, which she refuses to play into. In ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’ Solange denies free access to her body and mind as well as challenging and controlling how she is seen by the people who consume her music. The last line of the song is, “What you say to me?”, she challenges the listener to discredit her lived experience and truth. She reminds them that this is her body, mind, and music, and she will have the ultimate control over what is hers.

A Queer Reading of Harry Potter

In How To Interpret Literature Robert Parker asserts: “Those new to queer studies sometimes slide into thinking about queer critics I’m only for texts they think at explicitly queer. But part of the concept of queer study, including the idea that heterosexuality and queerness define each other, is the conviction hat queerness relates to all texts” (Parker 223). Applying this thought to a mainstream, predominantly heterosexual book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, we can find commanilties between the struggles of Harry, and that of a gay teenager. Harry Potter is ostracized by his family for being different than they are. This difference is the fact that Harry is a wizard and they are muggles. Harry is constantly put down, ridiculed, and degraded for identifying with this group. He is constantly forced by the threat of punishment by his family to hide the wizard part of himself from them and the rest of the world because they view it as unnatural and disgusting. Comparisons can be drawn between this treatment, and the treamtment of a gay teenager in the care of a family members who are homophobic. 

When Harry is not at Hogwarts he is contantly having to pretend to fit into a predominantly muggle world, much in the same way that an unacceptad gay teeanger would need to fake who they were in order to fit into a predominatly straight world. When Harry is at Hogwarts though and he is around people who are like him, he can be himself and feel accepted. We can look at the character of Hermione as a comparison for allies to the queer community. Hermoine is a muggle but can do magic and in this circumstance being around a muggle does not make Harry feel like he needs to hide who he truly is. If we consider Herminone separate from Harry, she can be a metaphor for bisexuality. She is both a muggle and a wizard and as such does not fit in entirely to one group or the other. She is teased at Hogwarts for being muggle and does not quite fit into the muggle world. 

There is also a literal closet that Harry lives in while he lives with his family. He is confined under the stairs to a closet until he is told about Hogwarts at which time he is able to make the choice to come out of the closet and leave his abusive home in order to be with people like him and people who will understand him. 

While the character of Harry Potter is not gay, many comparisons can be made between his circumstances and those of marginalized queer teenagers. This comparison supports Parker’s idea that heterosexuality and queerness define each other. It also highlights a new lens through which to view Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban that makes a comparison to the abuse of gay teenagers that may offer new understanding to some readers of their choice of actions. 

Orange Is The New LGBTQ+

In Parker’s chapter Queer Studies, he introduces the idea of queer theory, close to his idea on feminism. He believes the idea to be quite simple in that, “it is about taking queer acts, life, and thought seriously and treating them respectfully” (Parker, 191). The concept of queer studies in some ways could relate to that of feminism and the idea of identifying, examining, and reversing a cultural pattern heavily influenced by and persuaded into everyday society. Queer studies adopted these same patterns and applied it to labels such as, “gay”, “lesbian”, and “bisexual.” Subscribing to what Parker calls “compulsory heterosexuality” which means, “the naturalization of heterosexuality is the assumption, typically made without thinking, that everyone is heterosexual unless labeled otherwise” (Parker, 192). I think this also attributes to queer studies being similar to gay studies, not in binary categorization, but on the dissolution of them in order to broaden our society’s understanding of the cultural formation of gender and sexual identities and practices. So, it’s more than just a toleration or equal status, but a challenge against those accounts. 

I wanted to take a more modern approach to this concept and apply it to ways that media today is still applying these modems. In 2013, Netflix came out with a brand-new series Orange Is The New Black. Featuring an almost entirely female cast, some of which were openly queer, and was written and co-produced by a lesbian; Lauren Morelli.  The show pushed it farther as well, including transgender characters and actors to portray that role; Laverne Cox. The storyline alone counts for the evolution of queer studies, but the behind-the-scenes action I think is where a lot of this comes into play.

Laverne Cox, who plays Sophia Burset.

Before Orange, queer female protagonists on TV were few and far in between, rarely depcted. Aside from The L-Word, there were not multiple woman-loving-woman lead roles on any show. What this show is doing is more than simply depicting lesbian women on TV, but popularizing queer content in today’s media. And making it more than a simple affair,  something to be happened and then resolved. The two lead characters Piper and Alex prove this to be true in their romantic and intimate on-screen relationship suceeding the downfall of Piper’s original heterosexucal relationship with Larry. 

Sexuality is a considerable force in the social structure of this show, and I think either because of that or in spite of it, Orange offers some of the most nuanced and thorough portrayals of queer women on TV. From the very beginning, same-sex female relationships are accepted and almost a certified given. One of the main characters Piper is sitting with her counselor who tells her she does “not have to have lesbian sex” at Litchfield and looks ridiculous for saying so. 

The concerns about fidelity trump the heteronormative social pressure for all lesbian and bisexual women in the prison, which makes the show feel remarkably progressive. As one inmate is preparing to return to life outside prison, her current lover worries that she’ll meet someone else, gender irrelevant. Adding to the scene, one of the characters “Big Boo ” who would rather see the woman that rejected her serve extra time than leave Litchfield in a relationship with someone else. Similar complexity marks all of the same-sex relationships in Orange which is why they feel more full-bodied than those in previous shows.

The B in LGBTQ+ Stands For Babadook

A few years ago, psychological horror film The Babadook gained new celebrity after an internet user asserted that the titular monster, the Babadook themself, is an allegory for homosexuality. And as Benshoff writes in Monsters in the Closet, “queer readings aren’t ‘alternative’ readings, wishful or willful misreadings, or ‘reading too much into things’ readings,” (15) so the notion of the Babadook as a gay icon isn’t even that far of a reach. 

For some background, the premise of the movie itself is pretty simple: a woman’s husband is killed in a car accident and she’s left to raise their six year old son, Sam, alone. Sam then becomes obsessed with this imaginary monster, the Babadook, and even goes so far as to craft his own arsenal against it. Mister Babadook, as he’s so lovingly referred to in the film, is a shadowy, top hat wearing entity who lurks around the house causing terror, and he is widely regarded as a representation of grief. However, there are several ways in which our monster could be read not as grief but as a gay man. 

Mister Babadook wears a top hat (because he recognizes sophistication), and a long coat that gives no true indication of gender. He wrote a children’s picture book about himself to inspire fear and drama in the plot, and continued to leave it around the house for the mother, Amelia, to find, even after she had torn it to pieces and burned it. He resides almost exclusively in closets and basements, and in his lurking is more or less the epitome of Benshoff’s “shadowy Other.” In addition, his primary focus in the film is on Sam, a six-year-old boy, which exemplifies the conflation of homosexuality with pedophilia, bestiality, incest, and so forth that was (and still, in some ways, is) prominent in American society (3). In these ways, the Babadook is representative of a (stereotypical) gay man.

As a movie made to shed light on the darkness that exists in our lives and in ourselves, The Babadook also presents a compelling allegory for the queer experience. Our monster is a shadowy figure who, even in the midst of all the torment he causes for Amelia and Sam, is only really half paid attention for much of the movie. Amelia instead blames much of the odd occurrences in the film (even literal glass in her food) on her son’s erratic behavior. The Babadook, like many queer adolescents, lives in a house where he is never truly seen or recognized by the people in it, regardless of whatever attention-grabbing measures he may take.

Another queer reading of the film that does not involve the Babadook being gay could be that he is instead representative of the main character’s struggle with her own identity. Benshoff writes that “many monster movies…might be understood as being ‘about’ the eruption of some form of queer sexuality…” (4), and The Babadook may also represent the shame that Amelia feels as she’s coming to terms with herself. Throughout the movie she repeatedly insists that no one mentions her late husband’s name. While this could be her trying to avoid the grief she’s experienced, it could also be read as her coming to terms with her own sexuality and feeling guilty for it.

As a whole, there are many ways in which the Babadook could be read as either a gay man himself or a representation of another character’s creeping sexuality, and regardless of interpretation there is little doubt that the titular character is truly a gay icon.

Byron’s Cigar

By Ian Grima

In the opening scene of The Bride of Frankenstein, when Mary (Shelley), her husband, and Lord Byron are giving the recap and prologue of the film, it cannot be denied that there is some serious electricity in the air, and arguably it is a far greater source than that of the lighting storm outside their castle windows. It is the sense of erotic glee, of playful flirtation, and it roots itself in the flamboyant portrayal of “England’s greatest sinner”.

Byron’s physicality and flamboyant speech are in accordance with his persona as an eccentric. The real Byron has an historic list of bizarre behaviors and actions, such as but limited to keeping a bear as a pet because his university dormitories wouldn’t allow dogs. But in his own introduction of himself, he claims his head is “unbowed”, even before God, whom he postures could be sending the great electrical storm straight at said head. All of this language denotes that Byron is himself possessed of a very powerful ego.

A great source of Byron’s perceived ego comes from his apparent dominant masculine role within the scene itself. He is standing when the scene begins, is the first to speak out of the three characters, and speaks first of himself, then of Shelley, and then of Mary. This in its own way allows the viewer to almost descend through the rank of masculinity from greatest to least, but before I continue any further with this point, I need make another. Byron is also holding a cigar.

From a psychoanalytical reading of this scene, the physical similarities between the cigar and a phallus (which including the need to bring it to ones mouth for an orally pleasing sensation), as well as the Lacanian perspective of the phallus being a symbol of not only the penis but of the patriarchy itself, all compile to establish Byron as physically presenting his masculinity through the gesticulation of his hand.

As to whether Byron is attempting some kind of domineering behavior, that doesn’t seem to be the case, but what he does seem to accomplish quite well with all of this behavior, is the establishing of masculine and feminine archetypes, with himself being made out to be the most blatantly masculine in the room, his male counter part Shelley (the soft spoken, tender, nurturing) being the bridge between femininity and masculinity (especially as he is directed by his wife, and so willingly obliges her request) and Mary being the soft, pure, willowy epitome of feminine beauty and poise.

Despite Byron’s establishment as the most masculine, he doesn’t fall into the regular role of being the oppressive patriarchal figure that a kind of domineering masculine role would lead him to be. He is in fact enamored with the almost contradictory nature of Mary’s achievements, citing how gruesome and unfeminine they are in their nature, and applauding her in many ways for crossing the boundary. It is likely that his established nature of being so sinful (as he claims) are what pique his interest in Mary’s work, as the nature of sins are to go against the grain of morality, and Mary’s book has seemingly gone against the grain of her feminine nature. Byron is attracted to masculine pursuits, and to break from the rules, to affect change, seems to fall into that scope.

I believe that, while a psychoanalytical reading of this scene is feasible (as I’ve just tried to demonstrate), the layers of the performances and symbolism in this scene go far beyond the phallic imagery of Byron’s persona and performance. The potential for a queer reading of this or a feminist reading of the scene is palpable, and I would like to expand on it through those lenses.

Feminism and Film

What really interested me the most while we were exploring our critical interpretations was the section that talks about  Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”  its fascinating out widespread the concept is but not explicitly referred back to this article. This concept that the film’s gaze is  masculine suggesting these themes of control and sexualization over anything considered to be feminine is something that has always been discussed in our culture. Another interesting concept that I’ve stumbled across in the feminist film interpretations is the concept of the monstrous feminine that reveals itself in horror film. The ideology that a woman is almost always victimized, or the evil in the film is inherently feminine. 

One film that exhibits the masculine gaze really well is in the 1968 film Rosemary’s Baby. The gaze is used to suggest that Rosemary is always being watched and controlled in some way. We see this several times throughout the film, its established in such away that it is making a critique of the lifestyle that is being observed it is calling upon the nature in which we normally perceive and making it foreign and dominant in it’s masculine representation.

The masculine representation can be viewed as “men with voyeurism, control, and authority, expressed as a will to investigate and fetishize women” (175).The scene where Rosemary is doing her laundry at the beginning of the film establishes the creepy nature in which we the audience are observing her. Rosemary in this still appears the way most women under the masculine gaze are, “The women often appear in a framed space, perhaps standing in a door frame or before a window frame, underlining their position as two-dimensional static objects.” (How to interpret literature 175). The way in which her legs are exposed and spread can be seen as rather sexual or erotic, like she is made to be watched. It’s important to draw attention to the lighting as well she is almost an object on display, the rest of the room is dim really only lighting her and some other objects in the background. 

These camera angles in the video clip really imply a certain gaze, a way of looking into the woman’s daily life in a playful way that almost isn’t engaging with the reality of the situation around them. We the audience are converted to the masculine to the dominant there is a contrast against Rosemary’s domestic life and the way in which we are watching that life. It feels predatory, like she is an object to be devoured. Rosemary also feels like a doll in a dollhouse, only allowed to interact and engage with the space around her further stimulating the control in which she is put under. The film itself discusses the ways in which masculine control is terrifying and it engages a critique of 50’s household wife, the over glorified “perfect” domestic household life to continue when it is anything but ordinary. Often filled with abused and long lasting predatory masculine control.